I decided to write this article on my picks for the 5 best beach holiday destinations in the world because I’m often asked what my favorite beach in the world is. It’s impossible to pick a favorite; there are so many incredible beaches so I have my favorites based on various criteria. But if I had to name 5 of the best beach holiday destinations in the world, I would select them based on how close they are to being that idyllic paradise I have always dreamt about.
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had an obsession with finding the most heavenly, perfect beach in the whole world. I’m sure I’m not alone in my fantasy of being the only one one in paradise; my own stretch of white powdery sand, palm trees like a wall around the beach, their fringes rustling in the warm breeze, and crystal clear turquoise water gently lapping at the beach.
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Unfortunately I haven’t been everywhere, so I’m leaving out at least 2 or 3 places that I think would probably make it on almost everyone’s best beach destination list (sorry Maldives, Seychelles, Cook Islands, and everyone else I’ve neglected). I am purely doing a favorites list based on the 5 beach destinations that I’ve had the pleasure to visit myself up until this point.
So without further ado, here they are, The 5 Best Beach Holiday Destinations in the World:
- 1 1. For Perfect Sand, Water, and Exclusion: Exuma, Bahamas
- 2 2. For Perfect Colored Water: Bora Bora
- 3 4. For Adventure and Aloha Spirit: Hawaii
- 4 5. For Dramatic Landscapes: Greece
1. For Perfect Sand, Water, and Exclusion: Exuma, Bahamas
The Bahamas may seem cliche, but if you haven’t been to Exuma, you are missing out. Yes, it may be famous for swimming pigs (which are a riot, by the way), but the beaches are like a dream.
Best Beaches in Exuma
On Great Exuma, you’ll want to rent a car and explore on your own. There’s like one main road on the entire island. You can’t get lost.
Tropic of Cancer Beach
At the far southeast end of the island (technically Little Exuma which is connected by a bridge), this is a pristine stretch of perfect sand and water. You can possibly have it all to yourself if you go in the morning.
Jolly Hall Beach
Not far from the main town of George Town, Jolly Hall is perfect for a day of relaxing close to conveniences like perhaps your hotel or town. Totally stunning, of course.
Three Sisters Beach
This beach is about 12 miles north of George Town, has awesome views of the 3 rocks sticking out of the ocean, and again, it’s a perfect beach. There is at least one funky little beach shack restaurant nearby but the beach is basically deserted.
Coco Plum Beach
Even farther north, another perfect practically deserted long stretch of beach known for its shells and sand dollars.
For the day, it’s worth taking a 5 minute rickety boat taxi ride from the George Town harbor to the 7 mile long Stocking Island. Grab lunch at famous Chat ‘N’ Chill and swim with sting rays right off the beach. Ask someone how to get to the Atlantic side of the island. Be aware you will have to swim through a channel, so either bring a dry bag or be well adept at swimming with your arms over your head. Be aware that the waves on the Atlantic side are much bigger too.
There are so many cays around Great Exuma, the perfect beaches are endless. I pulled off onto numerous little dirt roads and found myself completely alone on awesome beaches. If you take a day tour to see the pigs at Staniel Cay, you’ll see plenty of other beaches and some of the most insanely cool sandbars. You’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven.
Where to Stay
For luxury, Sandals is on an incredible beach but ‘m totally partial to Augusta Bay. It is close to Georgetown and within a few minutes walking distance to some yummy food shacks as well as Jolly Hall Beach.
2. For Perfect Colored Water: Bora Bora
I had brochures of overwater bungalow resorts in Bora Bora plastered to my dorm room walls in college. Bora Bora was my number one dream beach destination for as long as I had known about it.
When my honeymoon rolled around, there was no doubt where we were going. The colors of the Bora Bora lagoon did not disappoint. There really is no where like it in the world. The reef forms a ring around the island with Mt. Otemanu jutting up from the middle. Within that lagoon are more shades of turquoise than any color palette you could fathom.
The famous overwater bungalows are not cheap, so visiting during my broke college student days, we had to stick with more meager accommodations. Which means someday, I’ll have to go again and get the full overwater experience.
3. For Amazing Culture: Zanzibar, Tanzania
Although Zanzibar is a beach destination and they welcome plenty of tourists, it is a predominantly conservative Muslim island, so save the bikini for the beach and dress modestly elsewhere.
The winding alleyways of Stone Town are incredible and the historical importance of this island is mind-blowing. And the beaches, well, pretty much perfect. The entire island is full of beauty, but for a particularly stunning beach, visit Nungwi in the north. Read more HERE.
4. For Adventure and Aloha Spirit: Hawaii
Sure, traveling to Hawaii is certainly not groundbreaking. It’s been one of the most popular beach destinations in the world for decades. However there’s good reason for that. And it’s definitely possible to get off the beaten path in Hawaii.
My all time favorite island in Hawaii, Maui has the best of all of Hawaii. I feel so strongly about this, I decided to buy myself a condo there. Great beaches (red and black sand too!), jungle hikes, waterfalls, great food, luxury resorts and jungle tree houses, a great surfer vibe, a boho hippy vibe, nightlife, quiet places to get away from everyone, and so much more. My absolute favorite beaches are Makenna Beach (aka Big Beach) and its little sister on the other side of the rock hillside, Little Beach, an unofficial nude beach. The drive to Hana is an an adventure in itself and can’t be missed!
The quiet island of the group, Kauai has the jewel of Hawaii with its Napali Coast. It has a small town feel, great surfer hippie vibes, and the best hiking of all of Hawaii. A bucket list dream for me is completing the entire Napali Coast hike which requires a permit. An awesome day trip is to take a boat along the Napali Coast and snorkel with turtles. There’s a good chance you’ll see dolphins frolicking alongside the boat too! A very diverse island, Kauai is fantastically beautiful and my second favorite.
5. For Dramatic Landscapes: Greece
I’m convinced Greece has a a little (or a lot) of everything that makes a great beach holiday. You get an awesome conglomeration of culture, history, rugged landscape, ridiculously good food, clear turquoise water, and the most beautiful hotels and views you can imagine. Although Greece is more of a seasonal beach destination, there are still ways to avoid the crowds and find seclusion in the summer. Read my post on Best Greek Islands to Avoid Crowds.
The island of Milos is the whole package. This is the island to enjoy the beach and magnificent boat tours of the coast. It is more affordable than the touristy islands of Mykonos and Santorini, and just plain rad. You can easily rent a scooter or quad and cruise all over the island. This island is for adventure!
This tiny island can be explored in just a couple days but is one of the most authentic feeling islands in Greece. A traffic jam involves goat herders blocking the road with their trotting herd. The coastline is magically rugged and dramatic which creates some of the most unique beaches. Although pebbly, the water is crystal clear, clean, and turquoise. The main town of Chora is adorable with tons of great restaurants. For sunset, hike the switchbacks up the mountain to the church overlooking the town and coastline. Words and pictures don’t do it justice.
I wanted to narrow it down to 5 best beach holiday destinations in the world but there are a few I felt a little bad leaving out.
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
When I saw the movie The Beach, I had to figure out where it was filmed and go there. It took me a few years, and by the time I made it there, “The Beach” had become a major tourist destination. Although beautiful, it was teeming with hoards of the very people I wanted to get away from. That’s why I’m not including Maya Bay, Thailand on the list of my picks for the best 5 beach destinations around the world. The top picture was from when we first arrived (I only had to edit out like 3 people) and the second photo is about half an hour later after all the boats began arriving.
St. John, US Virgin Islands
I don’t have a good excuse for not including St. John except that sand fleas ate the crap out of my legs. I’m extremely sensitive to their bites. St. John is incredible. The water and beaches are postcard perfect. The island is mostly National Park, so it is well preserved with tons of natural environments to explore, lots of culture and history, and a great Caribbean vibe.
Australia is amazing. I could probably spend years there. I only had one day to see the iconic Whitehaven Beach (one of the main reasons I went to Australia in the first place), and with a rather tragic twist of irony, it was cloudy and stormy that day. That didn’t negate the beauty of the powder white sand that literally squeaks under your feet when you walk (it’s like flour) and the magical swirling turquoise inlet.
That’s all for now! I’ve enjoyed plenty of other beach destinations, however these top my list. My favorites will likely change over the next few years as I get more opportunities to travel and add a few more places to my list of best beach holiday destinations in the world.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list!”
Well, hello there!
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